Creating the Artiste – The Madonna Story
To ask today’s artiste who Madonna is, is to ask today’s baker what cake is. Singer, songwriter, dancer, director, actress, and all round entrepreneur, Madonna Louise Ciccone is every young lady’s poster picture of unbelievable success.
Global music hit station, MTV described Madonna as the epitome of “brand reinvention”, the London Business School described her as ‘an outstanding and dynamic entrepreneur” worth copying and CNN described her as “arguably the most influential female recording artiste of all time” and me? I think she’s the Queen of all entertainment divas. From a modest career which is almost relatable to the careers of a lot of upcoming and current female musicians to a female business icon, rated as one of the wealthiest female songstresses on Forbes well known rich list, one starts to wonder how the Material Girl managed the unbelievable climb to success. Well, I wondered, I researched, and I think I might have something for you readers out there, here it goes:
It goes beyond the Mic
One thing Madonna learnt while shuffling through Broadway centers in the 80s was…you are only as famous as your last hit single. Like Adam Levine put it “fame lasts for 15 seconds”. Unfortunately this is a lesson, a number of international and local artistes have constantly failed to learn. These days, artistes, are realizing that when the stage lights go off, the computer lights must come on as they seek to develop alternative means of earnings and invest their earnings from music. Madonna exemplified this in Maverick Films and her infamous Cone Bras, while other artistes have gone down this route e.g. D’Banj’s Koko Mobile and 50 Cent’s multi-million dollar Vitamin water. While the lavish lifestyle will always have the grandeur of freshly bloomed roses, the end stories are always more gloomy than horror film scripts. Successful Nigerian group, P-Square seem to have figured this out. In a generation where most groups have risen and failed dramatically, they have turned out as one of Africa’s most successful acts ever.
Get a Dependable “Hand”
Publicists, managers, booking agents, record labels, producers, they are all very important (click here to see our article on teams) …but, the perfect “right hand man” will always be your lawyer. From publishing agreements to branding contracts, from ensuring recording agreements are fail-safe to protecting client interests, Lawyers are the modern day super heroes. Even flamboyant music/business mogul P. Diddy acknowledges the fact that he has been able to hit new heights with the services of Howard Weitzman, his lawyer. With fallouts occurring daily and artistes signing even worse agreements, the necessity of this cannot be over emphasized. From Baroness Fiona Shackleton, lawyer to Madonna and half the British Royal family to Christopher Normand Taylor, lawyer to Nelly Furtado and Canadian rapper, Drake, every artiste needs his/her double-edged sword. Signing an agreement without professional advice is like going to the market for surgery. With the re-evolution of the music industry, artistes are now realizing the importance of professional legal advice, those that aren’t are quickly realizing how quick the riches can vanish when an ideal agreement is not set in place. While managers and promoters are definitely important/necessary, legal services can never be exempted from this equation. In mathematics, the question normally reads “find x”…well, lawyers are the “X”.
Plan your career meticulously
A music career does not occur by chance, like a startup business, it needs careful planning and strategizing to grow into a diva. Career’s as illustrious as those of Onyeka Onwenu, Dolly Patton etc. are careers that took careful planning to build, choose your shows wisely. Madonna twice turned down lead roles in several blockbusters to focus on her music, Will Smith turned down the role of “Neo” in Matrix to focus on an album. Careful meticulous planning always ensures that priority projects are taken up with long-term profits in mind.
Finally, we must say that stardom is the one thing that no one can guarantee. It takes a lot of talent, money, contacts, and luck. Being in the right place at the right time has meant the difference for many stars, but they all had to be prepared when the break finally came. I hope this article will allow you to begin to consider this business we call music.